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Baltic states to reopen internal borders on May 15

PM Jüri Ratas with Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues in February.
PM Jüri Ratas with Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues in February. Source: Office of the Government of the Republic of Estonia

The Baltic states plan to open their internal borders on May 15 for the free movement of residents of the three countries, it was announced on Wednesday.

During a video conference today, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas agreed to open their internal borders from May 15 for the free movement of residents of the three countries. 

On Wednesday morning, Karins wrote on Twitter the borders would be reopening between the three Baltic states. But, he said, a person arriving from any other country - not from the Baltic states - will have to undergo a 14-day period of self-quarantine.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas confirmed the announcement on his Twitter account adding this is was a big step back towards returning to normal life.

Skvernelis wrote on Facebook: "We agreed that all three Baltic countries have properly curbed the spread of coronavirus."

He added: "We also trust each other's health care systems. This is why, from May 15, we will eliminate restrictions for Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian citizens for travel between the Baltic countries," he added.

Estonia closed its borders at the start of the emergency situation on March 12 and Lithuania did the same at approximately the same time.

The Latvian news agency LETA said that Latvia had not imposed any restrictions on crossing the internal border of the European Union during the emergency, which means that the Latvian authorities have not obstructed the movement of people at the Lithuanian-Estonian border.

Although Latvia has suspended international transport since March 17, it is not forbidden to cross the Latvian border in private vehicles or on foot. 

The ban on crossing the border only applies to the EU's external border, ie the border between Russia and Belarus, but officials can also make exceptions in this respect, LETA noted.

Latvia has a total of 900 cases of coronavirus and Lithuania 1,428. Estonia has the highest number of cases at 1,713.

This follows Monday's agreement between Skvernelis and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on reopening of borders to Lithuanian and Polish citizens, according to the Lithuanian prime minister. 

"The two-week isolation requirement will not apply to people who travel for work, business or study. This facilitation will take effect from May 11," Skvernelis said. 

He also posted a graph of testing rates in all three baltic countries on Twitter.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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